JANUARY 2019 PROGRAM WITH MELISSA TAPPER
LOOPS: Describe the early years of Melissa Tapper with us?
Like many kids and families in Table Tennis the journey for Melissa Tapper started with her local club. Hamilton TTA, a club with a designated table tennis facility, a host of the National youth championships in the 2000’s with membership of approx. 100 people where Melissa played once a week with local champions before her father Charles began supporting the road less travelled, bringing Melissa to Melbourne for weekly visits with coach Joe Gerada.
“I have so many great memories from the early years, my local club was so supportive with senior players really chipping in and helping me, then my weekly visits to work with Joe Gerada and the memory of playing a tournament on the same weekend when possible.”
At fifteen, Melissa moved to Melbourne with big sister Nicole to train more and follow her dreams of one day playing for Australia at the Olympics.
“Looking back, moving to Melbourne was a major moment for me. I sort of knew I wanted to have a real crack at it, but balancing it all against school, generally growing up and helping (or not-helping) my big sister out was all an amazing learning experience.”
LOOPS: What about the last six years?
“The last 6 years has seen me develop and change so much I barely recognise myself… the change being on the inside”
The Melissa Tapper story is something special, but it is not until the career is over that we might all be able to look back and see what she has achieved. Whilst Melissa struggles to recognise herself, we look at the leader, the ambassador and the woman that dares to dream the impossible, achieve the never and sometimes perceived impossible.
“Playing in London in front of 5,000 people at the Paralympics was the beginning of chapter 2 for me I guess. I was only scratching the surface when it came to sacrifice, work ethics, dedication and chasing my dreams.”
Melissa Tapper entered the 2012 season a Paralympic medal hopeful, an Australian Top 8 able body athlete and a sometimes National Team representative. Several Junior and Youth titles under her belt, a dedicated junior with a mountain to climb as a senior.
With her fundamentals in place, and a world of possibilities ahead of her, Melissa returned from London a changed athlete. With HWATT was now three years old and a group of players now ready to challenge her, Melissa began to train approx. twenty hours of grinding, analytical and monitored training.
The progression led by her application was instantaneous, in 2014 Melissa jumped from a top 8 Australian to #3 and a position in the Australian Commonwealth Games team, to then in 2016 qualification and a position in the Olympic Team to Rio and then in 2018 A Commonwealth Games Gold Medal to add to the list of growing achievements.
“I followed the dream, I doubted the dream, I continued to pursue the dream and when I made the Olympics all my dreams has come true to only then find myself winning gold on the Gold Coast at the Commonwealth Games. I almost had to pinch myself.”
LOOPS: Tell us about your team?
“Table Tennis is an individual sport, yet it takes a village to help and support you.”
One of Melissa’s greatest strengths is getting the best out of people. Melissa knows that getting the best out of her game at the right time is what creates success. From selecting the right people and leading from the front to create the environment she needs and wants. Melissa understands and manages her own destiny.
“I think many can have different methods in achieving, but I think we all lead to the same thing. Whether one wants to win a gold, get a job promotion or in turn fail or get demoted. We are faced with decisions everyday like where to shop, who to shop with and what to shop for as examples. Just know what you want out of the shop and then find a balance in getting what you ultimately want.”
Melissa’s outlook on life is carefully managed with what she wants with the people in her life comfortable to be a part of it. Like studying in conveyancing, or speaking at schools and corporate functions, constantly learning new things, working part time at the Sports Institute and as a Trust Accounting Clerk at Coolabah Law Chambers to leading the LOOPS team at training.
Melissa understands that she’ll earn respect by her team mates for her training dedication earning better training sessions, will become a better conveyancer by working at a Law Chambers whilst adding value to her employer, challenge herself speaking at corporate and school functions whilst sharing her experiences and get the most out of her family if she remains positive, supporting and balanced.
LOOPS: Looking back now, how do you describe yourself, what and how you have achieved so much?
Tapper is undoubtedly a grinder, with new table tennis challenges and champions coming in faster than ever through juniors chasing Melissa’s success, or new arrival from overseas settling in to the Australian life faster than ever. Tapper continues to overcome the contenders and opponents whilst welcoming new team mates to the Australian team with open arms.
“I’m a bit of a grinder. I enjoy the hard work and sweat on court and off court.”
Melissa Tapper is an Australian Team member aware of the privilege which is why I believe success will continue to follow her, but probably is what scares her most. With accountability instilled in her and a childhood made up of memories in country Victoria, Tapper is a proud Australian and true ambassador of Table Tennis.
“I enjoy pushing myself, but I’m also afraid of it. I love being accountable and I love enjoying the rewards of hard work.”
LOOPS: “You win or you learn? What does this mean to you”
We once heard you made the statement, “I win or I learn” in front of a packed out corporate event for SWISS Vitamins before auctioning a table tennis session with you of that went for a casual $10k. What does it mean to you?
“This is such a great motto to live by. If you can understand that when you apply yourself and do your best, whether the outcome is what you hoped, then awesome, remember that and keep doing it. If it isn’t, then awesome still, just remember what you did and think about how you can change or improve on it for next time. By constantly doing this, I find I never actually ‘lose’ I am always improving and winning”
OUR DAILY ENVIRONMENTS
Our thoughts are simple, create the environment and champions will grow. Plan the program to suit the environment and the individuals will take advantage of it. Ask what we can do better of ourselves and the quality will continue. Set limits and demand more or ourselves. Finally, create a benchmark to only find it be surpassed.
Our venue will play host to many of the World’s best Juniors in preparation for the World Junior Championships and was built with the January program in mind. A venue conducive to World Class training and athletes like Melissa, providing all the tools required to improve. From five robots to aid better quality sessions for developing players, or specific shot development for the likes of Melissa to all the other important tools needed to produce champions.
OUR JANUARY PROGRAM
Is challenging, is disciplined and is monitored. A coach knows that learning should be fun, but fun is not just playing around. It is a carefully balanced approach to get athletes responding to improvement. Our coaches have been in the game for over 20 years now, and they know what it takes, they’ve seen so many kids come through the system. It can be tough, it can be challenging but that is why we take the road less traveled.
Sessions are scheduled with physical training (off table) sessions, theory classes to help understand what high performance table tennis is and more than five hours of on table training daily carefully managed with competition practice and service training.